Malaysia: WWF-Malaysia is saddened by sawfish caught off Pulau Bruit

26th June 2014;

World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) is saddened by the 300kg Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) caught off Pulau Bruit, stating that the sawfish is a critically endangered species in the world.

In June 2007, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has approved trade restrictions for Sawfish because trade along with fishing pressure and habitat destruction were pushing them towards extinction.

The IUCN approved all seven Sawfish species in Appendix I banning all international commercial trade except for one species found in Australia, which was included in Appendix II (but only to allow trade in live animals to public aquaria for conservation purposes only).

Also known as carpenter sharks, Sawfish are large rays related to sharks, with distinctive toothed snouts. They are often traded for their fins, meat, unique toothed rostra (snouts), and as live animals for exhibition.

Their distinctive saw-like snouts are sold as souvenirs, curios, and ceremonial weapons, while other body parts such as skin, liver oil and bile are used in traditional medicines.

Little is still known about Sawfish, with population facts and figures being scarce, and there are very few sightings. [Source: Conservation Bite for Sawfish]

Global populations of every species of Sawfish are estimated to have fallen to less than 10% of their historic levels.

Just earlier this month, IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group (SSG) has released a global strategy to prevent extinction and promote recovery of Sawfishes.

To compliment the existing ban on commercial international sawfish trade, the strategy calls for national and regional actions to prohibit intentional killing of Sawfish, minimize mortality of accidental catches, protect sawfish habitats, and ensure effective enforcement of such safeguards.

The document also lays out actions associated with effective communications, capacity building, strategic research, and responsible husbandry, as well as fundraising to ensure implementation.
Source: Endangered Sawfish: IUCN Strategy Released as Global Protection Proposed].

The incident in Pulau Bruit, which WWF-Malaysia believes was unintentional, could have been avoided if fishermen are aware that the species is listed in the IUCN Red List, said conservation director Dr Sundari Ramakrishna.

However, she said, fishermen cannot continue to plea innocent all the time.

“They need to play their part in conservation by making it their business to fish sustainably, to know which species are common and rare, and make responsible choices by releasing live catch back into the sea.”

“WWF-Malaysia hoped that the incident in Pulau Bruit would serve as a lesson to all and moved the people from all walks of life to be more discerning when making their purchases for seafood,” she said.

When public are better informed and understand the impacts of our seafood choices, they will help shift our fisheries towards a more sustainable direction, added Dr Sundari.

The public can check out the status of fish species through WWF’s SOS Guide (Save Our Seafood) which aims at helping consumers make ocean-friendly decisions when it comes to their seafood.

The guide informs them which seafood is recommended, which to think twice about and which ones to avoid.

The guide is available in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and can be downloaded from www.saveourseafood.my.

Source: WWF-Malaysia

Malaysia: WWF-Malaysia is saddened by sawfish caught off Pulau Bruit

Young White-bellied Sea Eagle strangled by fishing line
By Natalie Huang, Syafiqah Omar & Simon Cherriman, 26th June 2014;

A Singapore filming company was at Pasir Ris Drive 3 on 24th June 2014 to film an active nest of the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) found in an Albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria) . This segment on the sea eagle is to be part of a wildlife documentary for Channel News Asia.

In the nest were two adults and one juvenile that looked to be about 10 weeks old. This was according to Simon Cherriman, the visiting eagle biologist. And on the ground was a dead juvenile, estimated to be about 6 weeks old. The image above shows Simon examining the dead sea eagle.

It died by what appeared to be strangulation by a fishing line – the first such case reported in this website.

Read More

Source: Bird Ecology Study Group

Initially reported to have been strangled by a piece of fishing net, it has been clarified that the eagle was entangled in a length of fishing line.

(Additional photos from Bintulu Weekly: Prehistoric, rare and endangered sawfish caught by fishermen in Daro
and WWF Malaysia urges Pulau Bruit villagers to play roles in conservation)

Malaysia: Kampung Bruit fishermen net a whopping 300kg sawfish
25th June 2014;

Two fishermen from Kampung Bruit here were in for a huge surprise on Monday night when their fishing trawler net seemed heavier than usual.

Little did they know that what they had hauled up would create history as their catch was none other than a Sawfish (Pristis sp.) weighing close to 300kg.

Pulling with all their might, the fishermen (name withheld) had to call for help from friends in the village as their catch was extremely heavy and considered the biggest fish they had caught throughout their years as fishermen.

Initially, the 27-year-olds were not aware of what fish they had caught at sea near Pulau Bruit around 9pm but after dragging the fishing net to shore with the assistance of other fishermen, they were shocked to find that they had caught a Sawfish measuring five metres long and two metres wide.

“We took almost 30 minutes to defeat the Sawfish but we were unable to haul it up to the boat as it was too big and heavy. Our only option was to tow it back to Kampung Bruit jetty and wait for sunrise before dragging it to shore,” one of the fishermen recalled of his experience.

By then, many villagers had thronged the beach to see for themselves the unusual catch of the day.

The Sawfish has since been sold to villagers and interested customers in Sibu. Details on proceeds of sale were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, photographs and stories of the large catch went viral on social media amongst residents of Pulau Bruit as many commented that they had never seen such a huge fish caught by fishermen before.

According to Wikipedia, the Sawfish is an endangered species. However at press time, Sarawak Forestry Corporation could not be reached for comment.

Source: The Borneo Post

Based on the size and arrangement of the teeth, this is likely to be a Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis microdon). Recent research suggests that the Largetooth Sawfish of the Indo-West Pacific and several other populations of Sawfish elsewhere in the world belong to a single species, and should be classified as Pristis pristis.

Photos by Natalia Huang

Young eagle strangled by fishing line
By Ria Tan, 25th June 2014;

Natalia Huang sadly reported a White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) juvenile carcass was found on the ground below an active nest along Pasir Ris Drive 3 in SLA land, on 24 June.

It died by what appears to be strangulation by a fishing line.

A Singapore filming company came across it while filming a wildlife documentary for Channel News Asia, which includes a segment on the sea eagle.

On the active nest were two adults and one juvenile which looked to be about 10 weeks old (according to Simon Cherriman, the visiting eagle biologist). From photos, the nest looks like it is in an Albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria), common for the species. Simon estimates that the juvenile eagle was about 6 weeks old when it died.

Read More

Source: Wild Shores of Singapore

Initially reported to have been strangled by a piece of fishing net, it has been clarified that the eagle was entangled in a length of fishing line.

A young female Melon-headed Whale (Peponocephala electra) stranded in Talisay City, Cebu last June 22 (Sunday). BFAR 7 staff and personnel made an effort to rehabilitate the animal but it died the following day. Post mortem examination done by Dr Jennefe Cabarubias revealed that the lungs are compromised. Final cause of death is yet to be determined.

Source: Friends of PMMSN – Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network Facebook

Dead crocs will undergo autopsies: PUB

By Audrey Tan, 25th June 2014;

The authorities have come up with fresh procedures to deal with dead crocodiles, after questions were raised over the handling of the carcass of a crocodile nicknamed Barney.

National water agency PUB and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) have reviewed the procedures, PUB told The Straits Times yesterday.

“In the event that any dead crocodiles are found, PUB will send the carcass to AVA for an autopsy to determine the cause of death,” a spokesman added.

Observers had voiced doubts about how the authorities had not done an autopsy to find out the cause of death of Barney, a 400kg Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) found dead at Kranji Reservoir on April 18.

The 3.6m-long reptile was found dead with a metal rod in its eye and a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth. PUB said yesterday that it was investigating it as a case of poaching but has yet to find the culprits.

The carcass of Barney, believed to be one of the largest wild specimens here, had been disposed of at a nearby farm.

Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm, the only one here, had said it did not receive the carcass.

Yesterday, observers like Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai welcomed the revised procedure, calling it a step in the right direction.

But Mr Subaraj, 51, who has more than 30 years’ experience in wildlife work, said the change should be extended: Autopsies should be carried out on all animals without an immediate known cause of death.

“The crocodile was a native, endangered species – it is important to know what caused its death.” he said. “In a nature area such as Kranji Reservoir, which is also a drinking water supply area, it is also important to find out what killed the reptile, as the safety of the public is at stake.”

Dr Edmund Lam, 54, chief executive of a copyright association, also applauded the news, saying he was “happy to hear” it.

He had written in to The Sunday Times Letters page on May 11 after the death of Barney was reported, to ask for clarification on the authorities’ usual procedure when faced with a carcass “of an animal belonging to a significant wildlife species”.

“It’s the right thing to do – a Saltwater Crocodile is rare,” he told The Straits Times yesterday.

Separately, PUB said yesterday that it is carrying out work on the Kranji Reservoir to remove an excessive number of Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) plants on its surface.

This is to help “maintain a balanced eco-system and a relatively clear water surface”, it said.

“Excessive growth reduces the water surface area for oxygen exchange and this can limit the levels of dissolved oxygen levels in the reservoir.”

It was responding to queries from The Straits Times, after a reader sent the paper photographs of machinery clearing flotsam at the reservoir. It said the growth was due to the quick reproduction of the plants within the reservoir, as well as at the rivers upstream.

Recent storms had washed the plants downstream into it, it said.

During the dry spell in February, it had not been able to “deploy aquatic plant removal machineries into the… upstream areas in Sungei Kangkar and Sungei Tengah as the water depth was too shallow”, said PUB. Works to reduce the aquatic plant population at the reservoir are expected to be completed by mid-July.

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Dead crocs will undergo autopsies: PUB